Before this week, the Wyoming men’s basketball team hadn’t won a road game against a Pac-12 opponent since 2011. Twenty-nine minutes into the Cowboys game Monday night at Oregon State, it looked like that streak might hold.
Wyoming was trailing the Beavers by six points at Gill Coliseum, and Oregon State had begun the half with a 17-7 run. Instead, the Cowboys roared back with a 25-7 run of their own.
Hayden Dalton dominated the first half, and Alan Herndon and Justin James took care of the second as the Pokes defeated Oregon State 75-66 in their first road game of 2017-18.
“Definitely what I told our guys in the locker room, just within some of the goals that we have within the team, winning on the road is one of them,” head coach Allen Edwards said. “And to come in against a very good Oregon State team early in the season and be able to walk away with the win is a very good win for the program.”
Dalton put up double digits in the first half for his second consecutive game. He had 16 points with four made 3-pointers at the break and ended the game with a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds. He had 30 points and 13 rebounds in Wyoming’s season opener.
Herndon scored 11 second-half points, 16 total, and blocked five shots after intermission to give Wyoming a boost on both ends of the floor.
“Well, I’ve always complimented Al on his ability to play on the defensive end of the floor,” Edwards said. “Where he needed to grow as a basketball player was just being more assertive on the offensive end of the floor. So when you do put both of them together, he can be a really, really special player, and just for him, I thought that was some good growth.
“Sometimes you need games like this as a player to kind of catapult yourself to the next level, and especially playing on the road against a quality team like Oregon State.”
James is still recovering from an ankle injury, and he was limited to 13 minutes in Wyoming’s opener. He played 29 minutes Monday, and scored all but six of his 19 points in the second half.
“It’s funny, because I thought he started out the first half trying to force it a little bit himself, kind of going one-on-one,” Edwards said. “And the thing the staff and I were hitting him with was again, letting the game come to him. Because he’s still only a few days removed from actually practicing or playing in games.
“... We’re trying to rest him, but I thought he showed some growth down the stretch. And I think what J.J. is getting really, really better at is becoming a team leader. Talking in the huddles, encouraging guys to continue to play defense, taking care of the basketball. Things that he’s starting to echo that the coaches have been hitting the team with. So I think he’s growing in that area as well.”
The Cowboys (2-0) began the game with a 10-5 edge, and lost the lead just once in the first 20 minutes. They missed nine of their first 12 shots in the second half, however, while the Beavers sunk their first four.
It was a five-point run that regained Wyoming its lead and an 11-0 run that cushioned it. The Beavers (1-1) went three-and-a-half minutes without a point during that spell, and Wyoming hit seven of its last eight shots from the field.
“Just going forward, like I told our guys after the game, this is only the beginning,” Edwards said. “We can’t obviously be satisfied with one road win. We have to continue to just play Cowboy basketball and work on getting better and better every day with practice and competing in games.”
Wyoming last beat a Pac-12 team Nov. 22, 2014, against Colorado at home. The Cowboys’ last road win against a Pac-12 team came Dec. 9, 2011, at Colorado.
Wyoming hadn’t won a game away from the Arena-Auditorium since Feb. 4 at Air Force.
The Cowboys were without senior guard Alexander Aka Gorski (ankle), sophomore center Andrew Moemeka (concussion) and freshman Anthony Mack (concussion) on Monday. Wyoming’s next game is Sunday against South Dakota State in the Cayman Islands Classic.